It was a happy and auspicious occasion when the parish of the Church of Divine Mercy Penang (CDM) came together to celebrate the 8th Sacradotal Anniversary of Fr Martin Arlando’s ordination on the 29th September. It was an added joy for Fr Martin as his family was present and that his father was celebrating his 80th birthday the next day. The preparations for this day began nine days earlier with a daily novena devoted to Fr Martin.
In his homily at the 8 pm mass on the gospel reading of the passion of John the Baptist (Mk 6:17-29), Fr remarked that John the Baptist was moved by the Holy Spirit to condemn King Herod who had violated the law by taking his brother’s wife as his own. John was confident that with God by his side, he had nothing to fear. This had stirred Herod’s conscience and the Holy Spirit was making him return to God. But Herod’s fear of losing face and moral weakness due to his lust had made him order for John’s beheading. This shows that sin can extinguish God’s grace if we give in to our immoral passions. Fr Martin said he had often wondered why he had chosen this particular day for his ordination especially when the Bishop in that ceremony said one had to die to one’s self to increase in God’s grace. But he had come to realize that conversion was to fully depend on God and rely on Him completely. In being reminded that his head was on the chopping board, the fear of him losing God, attracted him more to God. He had progressed in these years to abide in God’s ways and to pray for faithfulness, courage and the steadfast spirit of John the Baptist to allow himself to decrease and God to increase.
In ending, Fr Martin thanked the congregation to allowing him to grow as a priest in the six years he had been in CDM as its first parish priest. This marked almost 80% of his life as a priest and he had learned much during this time. Everyone present was then viewed a short video presentation of Fr Martin’s journey to priesthood. The Std 4 CEC children presented him with a card of birthday wishes, the Ministry of Hospitality presented a prayer card and everyone joined in with a birthday song as he cut a birthday cake.
At the end of the mass, everyone adjourned to St Faustina Hall for a potbless fellowship where another birthday cake was presented to Fr Martin’s Father in lieu of his birthday the following day. Music for the occasion was provided by a trio of young people which included some of Fr’s favourite songs. A senior parishioner also gave a rendition of some songs to warm the hearts of all who came.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
5th September. 2019